Edinburgh prop Alasdair Dickinson admits that his first season back at the Capital club has had its highs and lows. But the 30-year-old insists that progress has been made, and he is confident that a platform is now in place for the team to develop.
“It’s been a bit of a mixed bag,” conceded the man who kicked off his professional career at Edinburgh before moving south for spells at Gloucester and Sale. He returned to the city last summer and has subsequently signed a two-year extension to his contract. “We’ve had some great wins and some disappointing losses. It’s not been as good as I would have hoped but I think that things are now in place, and it’s a case of onwards and upwards from here.”
Dickinson will feature tomorrow evening when Edinburgh play their final home fixture of the RaboDirect PRO12 campaign against Munster at Meggetland (kick-off 5pm), with the Irish outfit eying a top-two finish and home advantage when the competition reaches the play-off phase.
Recent disappointments for Munster in the shape of a league defeat at home to Glasgow and a European exit at the hands of Toulon came either side of a win at Connacht. But Dickinson knows that Edinburgh will need to perform well to repeat the Heineken Cup pool success over the same opponents earlier in the season.
“Munster are a strong side and games against them are physical and brutal. I don’t expect anything less this time,” he added. “They still have the Rabo to play for and they will be extremely physical. But we will concentrate on our own game and we are looking for a massive performance in our last home game.”
He believes the hosts will be buoyed by a battling performance in the narrow defeat at Glasgow last week. And he is quick to dispel any notion that there is little at stake for Edinburgh.
“We have a lot to play for,” he said. “We have two games left and the boys are keen to prove a point and hopefully end on a positive note. Scotland have a big tour in the summer and there are lots of guys keen to go. More things clicked against Glasgow and we played reasonably well in patches. We still made some silly mistakes, but overall it was much improved.”
That match offered a glimpse of the ball handling skills the team possesses, a transformation from the kicking style that has been the primary tactic throughout the campaign. Dickinson admits that he enjoys the open style and, if conditions allow, hopes for another entertaining encounter.
“I’m not the biggest prop and I like getting around the park and playing fast rugby,” he said. “When I was at Gloucester and Sale, we liked to play expansive rugby. We have played a kicking game here but that is all part of the evolution. I think we now have the foundations right. We showed against Glasgow that we can play a handling game and we now need to build on that. It’s a work in progress.
“We have the structures in place now and it’s all about adding things. We have a great coaching team who eat, sleep and talk rugby. It’s great to see coaches that are so passionate and that’s one of the reasons why I think the future for Edinburgh is looking good.”
He sympathises with the supporters, conceding that they have not seen the side at its best. However, he is confident that the evolution will be worth the wait. “I can completely understand their frustration,” he said. “We want them to keep the faith and understand that we are building towards a bigger future. We have quality players and we now have the foundations in place.”
Dickinson believes the fact the match will take place at a packed Meggetland, rather than a sparsely populated Murrayfield, should be a positive factor for both players and spectators. “I hope a lot turn out. The crowd certainly plays its part,” he said. “It’s an enclosed ground and when we played there against Cardiff Blues the atmosphere was great.”